Dissertation Writing Tips: How To Format A Contents Page

When writing a dissertation getting the contents page right is a crucial step. The contents page allows a reader to easily navigate amongst the different parts of a dissertation. It can particularly be useful when a dissertation is very long. However, getting the formatting of a contents page correct can be a little tricky if you have never done it before. Here are a few tips on how to get it right.

Use Many Entries

Rather than breaking down a contents page by chapters only it would be advantageous to also use a breakdown of the subheadings. Let’s say a chapter is 10 pages long, but the reader wants to access a particular sub-heading. It would be ideal if the reader could do that from the content page. The more specific the entries on the contents page the easier it will be to navigate the dissertation.

Use The Table Of Contents Function

Most word processing programs will have a table of contents feature integrated into the software. You should use this to create the table of contents, and the instructions on how to do this will be available at your word processing software.

Some people try to create the table of contents manually as opposed to using a built-in function. This is the wrong way to do it, and that’s because it will take a lot more time. Then if you want to add an additional chapter in the middle of your dissertation you’ll need to manually change all the page numbers.

On the other hand, a contents page that is formatted using a word processor function allows for the easy addition of chapters and other elements.

Header Styling

Most word processors will allow you to format a contents page using header styling. For example, on MS Word at the toolbar you’ll see options for Header 1, Header 2, and so on. The Header 1’s will be used for the titles of the chapters, whereas Header 2’s will be used as the sub-titles.

Typically when you use the header function you will not need to manually enter page numbers. The contents formatting function will retrieve the page numbers and automatically insert them into a contents page whenever a new Header is created.

Formatting a contents page is a process that has a small learning curve, but once you get the hang of things it’s fairly easy to do.

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